Best Tire Shine Product

Introduction

Detailing tires often gets overlooked, probably because it’s the last step in the process. While dressing tires may be the last step in detailing, black glossy tires are often the first thing people notice when looking at a car.

In fact, there is a strong argument that tire dressing provides the biggest bang for the buck in car detailing. What is the best tire shine product? The answer is not straightforward as this is a very competitive niche.

Our two top picks, Car Guys Premium Tire Shine Spray and Carfidant Ultimate Tire Shine Spray, are both excellent. They provide a controllable shine, are easy to apply and get fantastic reviews.

Best Tire Shine Product Reviews 

Best Tire Shine Product of 2019

 

Best tire shine

We reviewed dozens of brands, and here are the best tire shine products across all categories:

  1. Car Guys Premium (Spray)
  2. Carfidant Ultimate (Spray)
  3. Adam’s VRT (Gel)
  4. Chemical Guys Nice and Wet (Aerosol)
  5. Aero Cosmetics (Spray)
  6. Tri Nova (Concentrate)
  7. Armor All Extreme (Gel)
  8. Shine Society (Concentrate).

These are all top-notch. Let’s dive into the detailed reviews.


#1 Rated: Car Guys Premium Spray

Shine: Controllable. Size: 18 ounces. Application: Spray. Base: Water.

car guys tire shine spray

With great reviews, a long history, and an included “sponge” applicator, Car Guys Premium is a tire shine product that has it all.

Car Guys Premium is designed to please the largest range of customers possible. It is a medium thick, controllable shine product.  Complaints about “sling” (getting product on your paint while driving) are less than 2%, which is excellent for this product category.

It is also dry to the touch with a low mess factor. Simply clean the tires first, spray 2-3 squirts onto the applicator and rub into the tire. Repeat the process for more shine.

What we like:

  • A medium “wet” look, although you can get a fuller gloss look with additional applications
  • Limited “sling” of the product onto the car when driving
  • Easy to apply
  • Included tire dressing applicator that is tailored to the product
  • Non-toxic water based solution that is both tire and environmentally friendly
  • Customer service is top notch if you have an issue
  • 100% “no questions asked” money back guarantee
  • Made in the U.S.A.

Cons:

  • Price per ounce is on the higher end of the range (~ 10% premium)
  • Difficult to get a pure matte look if that is your preference
  • A few complaints about the spray mechanism (<2%).

Overall, Car Guys Premium is a worthy choice for our top pick.


#2 Rated: Carfidant Ultimate Spray

Shine: Controllable. Size: 18 ounces. Application: Spray. Base: Water.

Carfidant Ultimate Tire Shine Spray

Carfidant Tire Shine Spray is a newer product on the market. It also gets the absolute best customer reviews in the segment.

Carfidant uses a patented nano-polymer formula that protects against UV radiation, salt and road grime. Like our other best product, the shine is controllable.

What we like:

  • Comes with tire shine applicator
  • Excellent, really black finish
  • Limited tire sling
  • Long lasting tire shine for a water based product
  • Has a discount code (CarfVIP1) for 10% – 25% off for purchases of multiple Carfidant products
  • 100% money back guarantee.

Cons:

  • Relatively more expensive on a price per ounce basis (10% premium)
  • Longevity, while good, cannot match solvent based tire shine products
  • Newer brand and not as established as Adam’s, Car Guys, or Meguiar’s.

#3 Rated: Adam’s VRT Gel Tire Dressing

Shine: Satin Matte. Size: 16 ounces. Application: Gel. Base: Water.

Adam’s VRT is a premium brand and is the highest rated gel product in our review. Super clean and not messy, it was definitely a strong contender for best overall.

Adams VRT Gel Tire Dressing

Adam’s uses a special formula that provides a robust SPF 35 UV protection. The finish provides a “new tire” look and is NOT super shiny.

What we like:

  • Comes with two tire shine applicators
  • Very thick product with limited sling when driving
  • Less likely than sprays to get product on your rims when applying
  • Dry to the touch…not messy at all
  • Works on vinyl, plastic and most other synthetic trims
  • Lack of any noticeable odor.

Cons:

  • Only provides a low gloss, matte shine. No possibility of a wet finish
  • Very expensive on a price per ounce basis (40% premium)
  • Lasts decently long time for a water based product.

Here is a video from Adam Pitale himself describing VRT tire dressing.


#4 Rated: Chemical Guys Nice and Wet 

Shine: Wet. Size: 14.5 ounces. Application: Aerosol Foam. Base: Refined oil.

Chemical Guys Nice and Wet Tire Shine

Chemical Guys is a very well known brand in the detailing market, and their Nice and Wet is the highest rated aerosol spray product in our review.

Nice and Wet sprays on as a foam. It’s super easy to apply. Spray it on, let it dry and wipe off with a microfiber cloth. You can even skip the wipe down for a wetter look, although we do not recommend that (will sling onto your paint).

What we like:

  • May be the fastest and easiest product to apply
  • Can provide a very wet gloss for those that prefer it
  • Aerosol spray is great at penetrating crevices in knobby, off-road tires
  • Very good longevity as a solvent based tire dressing
  • Great customer service
  • Made in the U.S.A.

Cons:

  • Be careful not to overspray, leads to slinging and/or more work to remove the excess
  • Expensive by aerosol spray standards
  • Essential oil based formulation is less environmentally friendly than water based.

Check out the Chemical Guys Nice and Wet manufacturer video here.


#5 Rated: Aero Cosmetics Rubber Care

Shine: Satin Matte. Size: 16 ounces. Application: Spray. Base: Water.

Aero Cosmetics Rubber Care

Aero Cosmetics is rated for the aviation industry and is excellent for cleaning and restoring rubber to a new look. Its triple nano polymer formula provides excellent UV protection. Longevity is among the best for a water based product.

What we like:

  • Top quality product designed for aircraft and certified by Boeing
  • Provides a true satin matte, low gloss shine
  • Absolute best UV protection
  • Very little tire sling
  • Price per ounce more affordable than average (20% below average price)
  • Works on all rubber and plastic parts
  • 100% no questions asked money back guarantee
  • Made in the U.S.A.

Cons:

  • The shine is on the lowest end of the “matte” spectrum…very little room to maneuver
  • Long lasting shine for a water based product
  • A few complaints about the spray mechanism (<2%).

For a clean, new car look, Aero Cosmetics is an excellent choice.


#6 Rated:  TriNova Tire Shine 

Shine: Controllable. Size: 18 ounces or 1 gallon. Application: Concentrate. Base: Water.

TriNova Tire Shine

Cited as a top product by many reviewers and enthusiasts, TriNova frequently wins “best of” awards.

TriNova’s claim to fame is that you can spray on ONE application, let is soak for a while and get a VERY wet and dark gloss (wipe off after 15 minutes for a more  medium shine).

TriNova Tire Shine has advanced coatings that provide a high shine while protecting against fading, cracking and yellowing.

One cool feature is that the shine is highly controllable.  Anything from a medium finish to completely glossy and wet is possible.

What we like:

  • Best in class price per ounce when purchased in 1 gallon industrial size
  • Controllable shine up to a very slick and dark finish
  • Easy to apply if you have a sprayer
  • Last longer than other water based tire shine products
  • Limited tire sling
  • Works on all rubber and plastic parts
  • Made in the U.S.A.

Cons:

  • Tire dressing applicator must be purchased separately
  • Some feedback that application can be blotchy without a thorough wipe down.

TriNova Tire Shine Spray is an excellent product with a long and proven track record.


#7 Rated: Armor All Extreme Gel

Shine: Wet. Size: 18 ounces. Application: Gel.

Armor All Extreme Tire Shine GelArmor All has been around forever and has historically been associated with sticky dash and seat protectants. Not anymore. It is now in the same ballpark as more upscale brand names. It’s just much cheaper and can be found for less than HALF the price of competitors.

We would classify the shine as true wet look, shinier than matte but not as outrageous as some of the Chemical Guys products. Someone described the finish on tires as “more like licorice than a glazed donut.”

What we like:

  • Extremely affordable
  • Included applicator sponge
  • Creates a minimum of mess
  • Can provide a very good, albeit not best in class, wet shine
  • Good longevity at 2-3 weeks plus.

Cons:

  • Some reports of slinging (be sure to let dry and wipe of any excess)
  • Will attract dust if not wiped down properly
  • Product not as dry to the touch as higher end gels like Adam’s or Meguiar’s (some complaints about it being messy).

Armor All Extreme Tire Shine Gel is greatly improved and worth your consideration.


#8 Rated: Shine Society Concentrate

Shine: Satin Matte. Size: 8 ounces. Application: Gel concentrate. Base: Water.

Loved by detailing professionals everywhere, Shine Society Trim and Tire Dressing gets great reviews across their ENTIRE product range. Their Tire Shine Concentrate is expensive at 2x the price per ounce of our two Editor’s Choice products. It’s also worth every penny.

Satin Matte look, absolutely no mess and no sling. As a concentrate, it will last much longer as only a few drops of product is required for most tires.

The shine is more a satin, new tire look than wet gloss. Shine Society Tire Shine is very versatile. It can work on any surface short of paint or interior fabrics.

What we like:

  • Perfect “new tire” matte finish
  • Longer lasting than other water based gels
  • Very versatile product that can be used on almost all car surfaces
  • Comes with included applicator
  • Outstanding reputation from professionals.

Cons:

  • Expensive on a per ounce basis
  • Not capable of a really high gloss wet shine if that is what you need.

Shine Society is the tire dressing product that I personally use the most often.


Other Top Products

Black Magic Tire Wet Foam

Black Magic Tire Wet Foam is another spray foam at a price per ounce that is tied for the lowest among the 14 products we reviewed. Unusually, for a spray foam, it is water based.

Black Magic Tire Wet Foam
  • Cleans, shines, and protects in one step, to enrich your tires to reveal that ultimate Tire Wet shine
  • Specially formulated thick foam clings to the tire to dissolve and release brake dust, road grime, and mud
  • Leaves behind no white powdery residue, just pure, wet shine
  • Lasts up to 2 weeks

It is marketed as a “one step” product. This means that you don’t have to clean the tire first and then spray on the shine separately. Spray it on, let it sit for at least 10 minutes and wipe off the excess.

What we like:

  • VERY affordable
  • Very easy to use…just three simple steps
  • Decent longevity compared to water based competitors.

Cons:

  • Can be messy and get on clothes and driveway
  • Moderate amount of sling
  • Gloss doesn’t last as long as solvent based sprays.

Manufacturer’s model number: 80002220.


Chemical Guys Silk Shine Tire Dressing

Chemical Guys Silk Shine Tire Dressing is a water based tire shine similar to our two Editor’s Choice products. It’s a very good offering, BUT it has a lot of competition.

Chemical Guys Silk Shine Dressing
Clean modern matte finish. Dry to the touch. UV protection. Use on all vinyl, plastic and rubber surfaces. 18 ounces.

What we like:

  • Usable on all non paint and fabric surfaces
  • One of the most affordable Chemical Guys products (30% cheaper than segment average)
  • Solid UV protection
  • Tire and environmentally friendly
  • Pleasant “car scent” smell
  • Good customer service and money back guarantee
  • Made in the U.S.A.

Cons:

  • Not as dry to the touch as other water based sprays
  • Less durable in rain and inclement weather.

Manufacturer’s model number: TVD10916.


Chemical Guys Tire & Trim 

Chemical Guys Tire & Trim Gel is something of a different animal. Its base is a refined oil that is less harsh than most solvent based tire shines.

Chemical Guys Tire & Trim Gel
Deep glossy shine. Dry to the touch. UV protection. Use on all vinyl, plastic and rubber surfaces. 16 ounces.

The result is a high dark wet shine that lasts longer than water based shines and is less toxic than traditional solvent based tire dressings.

What we like:

  • A really glossy black finish
  • An oil base that is dry to the touch
  • 2-3 week longevity
  • Money back guarantee
  • Made in the U.S.A.

Cons:

  • Premium priced at ~ 10% above the average for tire shines
  • A bit messy to apply
  • Will sling if applied incorrectly (don’t remove all the excess)
  • Works better on black plastic and vinyl as opposed to greys or other colors.

Manufacturer’s model number: TVD-108-16.


Griot’s Garage Vinyl & Rubber Dressing

Griot’s Garage V&R Tire Dressing is a solid offering from the famed Griot’s line. It is an excellent product that could have easily garnered our Editor’s Choice award.

Griot's Garage 10981 Vinyl and Rubber Dressing - 22 oz.
  • Conditions vinyl and rubber
  • Provides UV protection
  • Leaves surface with a matte or satin finish and non-slick
  • Keep your trim looking new
  • Use this versatile product on tires, rubber and plastic trim, interior, engine bay, and more

This water based spray provides a new car, matte look as opposed to a super shine. It is a very versatile product that can be used on your car’s interior as well.

What we like:

  • Low “mess factor” when applying
  • Simple, easy to use and reliable
  • Very good UV protection
  • Larger bottle for when you have several cars to detail
  • Trusted and well established brand.

Cons:

  • Will streak if not wiped down in time
  • Some people have had problems with the spray pump.

Manufacturer’s model number: 10981.


Meguiar’s Endurance Tire 

Meguiar’s is a huge brand in the car care and detailing segment and has been in business for over 115 years. Their Endurance Tire Gel exemplifies the quality of the Meguiar’s line.

Meguiar’s Endurance Tire Gel
Deep glossy shine. Advanced polymer formula. Gel base prevents overspray. 16 ounces.

Provides a very high gloss and black shine on par with Aerosol sprays. Advanced patented formula prevents tire cracking and browning.

The Endurance Tire is an excellent product and is very close to Adam’s VRT (our best overall gel).

What we like:

  • Very wet look
  • Excellent customer support materials and resources
  • Very limited sling for a wet look shine if applied correctly
  • Trusted brand with the longest track record in the market.

Cons:

  • Will sling if applied incorrectly (don’t remove all the excess)
  • Will splatter more than most gels if you use to much
  • Average longevity (~ 1 week depending on conditions).

Manufacturer’s model number: G7516.


Meguiar’s NXT Tire Shine

This Meguiar’s product is an aerosol spray as opposed to a gel. Its calling card is a super glossy, black shine. No satin matte look here.

Sale
Meguiar's NXT Tire Shine Spray
High glossy shine. Dry to the touch. Aerosol spray. Protects against browning and cracks. 15 ounces.

It is considered to be a spray on, “no wipe” tire shine. However, if you overspray, it will sling to other parts of your car and make a mess. As with any of these products, applying to a clean tire is a must.

What we like:

  • One of the brightest shines available on the market
  • Very affordable (35% cheaper than average)
  • Very fast and easy to apply
  • Trusted and well established brand.

Cons:

  • Because it is an aerosol spray, it can get on rims if you’re not careful
  • Solvent base is not tire and environmentally friendly
  • Will sling when over sprayed.

Manufacturer’s model number: G13115.


Product Comparison Table

We have covered a large number of tire shine products. Here is summary so you can see the relevant information in one glance.

ProductFinish LookMediumApplication TypeSizePrice Per OunceASA Rating
Car Guys PremiumControllableWaterSpray18 ounce$$$4.8
Carfidant UltimateControllableWaterSpray18 ounce$$$4.8
Adam's VRTSatin matteWaterGel16 ounce$$$$4.6
Chemical Guys Nice & WetWetRefined oilSpray foam14.5 ounce$$$4.7
Aero Cosmetics Rubber CareSatin matteWaterSpray16 ounce$$4.7
TriNova Tire ShineWetWaterSpray18 ounce or 1 gallon$4.7
Armor All Extreme Tire ShineWetN/AGel18 ounce$4.5
Shine Society Tire ShineSatin matteWaterConcentrate8 ounce$$$$$$4.8
Black Magic Tire FoamSatin matteWaterSpray foam18 ounce$4.4
Chemical Guys Silk ShineSatin matteWaterSpray16 ounce$$4.5
Chemical Guys Tire & TrimWetRefined oilGel16 ounce$$$4.4
Griot's Garage V&R DressingSatin matteWaterSpray22 ounce$$$4.5
Meguiar's EnduranceWetN/AGel16 ounce$$$4.5
Meguiar's NXTWetSolventSpray foam15 ounce$$4.5

Tire Shine Buyers Guide

Are There Different Types of Products?

Tire shine products can be characterized in how they are applied (e.g., spray, foam) and how they are made (water or solvent based).

Application.  There are four main ways tire shine can be applied to tires:

Spray. Tire shine in spray bottles is the most common product form on the market, and among the most expensive. Sprayable liquid is much faster to apply than gel or concentrate. However, you have LESS fine-tuned control over how much product is used. That can require more wiping down to avoid dripping or slinging.

Aerosol spray. This is the fastest method of applying tire shine. Some have argued that the chemicals to suspend the solvent in aerosol form will harm tires over time. However, tires are manufactured to be extremely tough. Aerosol shines are on average the cheapest available.

Gel. Control is the key word here. Gel products are applied first to tire shine applicators and then massaged into tires. This allows users to tweak both the amount used and the level of shine. The downside is that the process usually takes longer.

Concentrate. The least common form is concentrate. With the consistency of thick hair conditioner, concentrates require only a tiny amount of product. Beyond that, they work similarly to gel products. Not surprisingly, they are the most expensive per ounce.

Base. The product base comes in two types – water and solvent.

Solvent base. These tire dressings contain carbon and silicone in a slow evaporating solvent solution. Typically, they require applying think layers of dressing and using a sponge to get an even shine.

Water base. With these products, silicone is homogenized so that it can be suspended in water. While these are gentle products, the shine produced does not last as long.

Product TraitWater Based Tire ShineSolvent Based Tire Shine
Quick dryingNoYes
Less "sling"YesNo
Stable when frozenNoYes
FlammableNoUsually
CostUsually lessUsually more

Source: Carwash.com

What Are the Pros and Cons?

The main benefit of all tire shine products is that it makes your tires look clean and shiny. This can be anywhere from a glossy satin to a “straight from the car wash” wet look.

Most products also have protectants as part of their formulations.  UV inhibitors prevent the sun’s rays from breaking down rubber which causes cracks and brown discoloration.

Beyond that, solvent and water based tire dressings have relative strengths and weaknesses.

Solvent based tire shines:

  • Resist water better
  • Last longer
  • Save time and money due to requiring fewer applications
  • Create a glossier and wetter shine.

Water based tire shines:

  • Are more environmentally friendly
  • Clean easier if it gets on clothes or paint
  • Provide a more natural looking shine
  • Layer on more smoothly (especially the best water based tire dressings).

There are cons as well.

  • “Slinging” is number one by far and is more an issue with solvent based tire dressings (slinging is where the shine is “slung” onto the paint when driven)
  • Aerosol sprays can damage tires (and the environment) over time
  • Some products require a lot of elbow grease to get an even shine with no runs.

What are the Important Purchase Considerations? 

Type of Base. We just walked through in detail the differences between solvent and water based tire dressings. If slinging and environmental friendliness are important, choose a water based product.  If water resistance and durability are important, go the solvent route.

UV protection. Ultraviolet radiation damages virtually all car accessories from tires to dashboards. If you park outdoors full time and live in sunny climates, consider the highest rated UV product available.

Price. Even the best shine products usually cost under $20. However, that masks a huge difference in price per ounce. The range in our roundup of products was 7x.  The lowest was 25 cents per ounce, and the highest was $1.87 per ounce. If you only have 1-2 cars, this may not be a major concern. That said, every penny counts.

Look. Shines range from a clean but dull “matte” look to a completely “wet” look. All product descriptions provide some indication of the final look. A quick scan of the reviews will help verify the veracity of manufacturer claims. It is worth noting that our two Editor’s Choices have a “controllable” shine. The more product you apply, the wetter the look.

Longevity. Some products last longer than others. Longevity depends hugely on how and where you drive; whether or not you have a garage; what the weather is like; etc. That said, 2-3 weeks with the shine slowly fading is a decent rule of thumb.

How to Apply Tire Shine?

Not all tire shine products are the same. There are sprays, aerosol sprays, gels and concentrates just to name a few of the different forms. Read your instructions CAREFULLY.

The two biggest complaints about tire shines are “sling” and that the shine doesn’t last long enough. Both of these issues are significantly worsened if the product is applied incorrectly.

A generic tire shine process looks like this.

  1. Clean all tires with tire soap until all filmy residue is gone
  2. Apply the product per the instructions
  3. Allow product to bond with the tires (can take up to 30 minutes)
  4. Wipe with a damp towel.
  5. Complete cleaning by wiping with a dry towel.

Note: some products are “one step” meaning they clean and shine all at once. Even in those cases, you are usually better off to clean your car tires first.

How to Make Tire Shine Last?

Tires that have been driven for a while have layers of black film. The film is the result of road grime, old tire shine,  grease, and basically anything else that will stick to a tire.

If these layers are not removed, any new tire shine will not be able to bond to the tire. The result is that any newly applied product will only last for a few days.

Thoroughly clean your tires with a tire safe cleaner. Once that is done, apply your preferred tire shine product. Not only will you get a better quality finish, it will last longer as well.

This video from Chemical Guys walks through the details.


Best Tire Shine Applicators and Other Accessories

There are only a few accessories that you need to worry about. The main ones are tire cleaners, tire shine applicators (if not included with purchase), microfiber cloths and possibly, spray bottles.

Some manufacturers provide tire shine applicators with any purchase of their product. Our Editor’s Choice, Car Guys Premium, is an example. Other manufacturers sell specific tire dressing applicators tailored to their product. Adam’s and Chemical Guys are examples.

Here are some of the best available.


Conclusion

Like wearing high quality shoes with a nice suit, a good tire shine completes your perfectly detailed car.

The fact that it protects your tires and helps them last longer are just added bonuses.

If you have been wondering what is the best tire shine product, hopefully this roundup answers all your questions.

The most important considerations are what type of shine do you want, how to avoid “sling,” and do you prefer a water or solvent base given their known tradeoffs.

Our two top picks for best tire shine, Car Guys Premium Tire Shine Spray and Carfidant Ultimate Tire Shine Spray, are excellent in all regards.

Customers love them, and your tires will too!


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are some of your favorite tire shine best practices?

First, always try the product on a small area to make sure it provides the result you want. Nothing is worse than doing a bunch of work and being both disappointed AND tired.

Also, invest in buying a rubber safe cleaner and thoroughly clean the tires first. This makes everything go better: ease of application, quality of shine, longevity, etc.

Can tire shine be used on rims?

Again, most shine product won’t hurt rims. It is made for tires after all. Some splatter is all but given. However, we always recommend buying dedicated wheel and rim cleaners. They are very affordable and do the job quite well.

Can tire shine be used on off-road tires?

Of course. However it is extremely difficult to get into the nooks and crannies on knobby tires. Aerosol spray foams seem to work the best. Thick gels that require spreading on by hand are the least effective in our opinion.

Something like Chemical Guys Nice and Wet Tire Shine would probably work the best.

What does “tire shine no sling” mean?

Tire shine products have silicone and other protectants in them. If applied too thickly or not rubbed into the tire, the product can be thrown onto car paint, rims and the fender wall when driving.

So “tire shine no sling” is car lingo for a product that stays on the tire once applied.

Is it possible to make a homemade tire shine?

Take any car product and there is always some intrepid consumer who wants to make a homemade version.  While a DIY tire shine is absolutely possible and in the spirit of full disclosure, we only use branded products.

After surveying the internet, people have tried castor oil, lemon oil, baby oil, coke, etc., to make a homemade tire shine.

Castor oil seems to be the most common ingredient in DIY tire shine. Check out this video for a representative mixture.

It is fair to point out, that the DIY approach is not necessarily cheaper and looks to be more expensive in many cases.

What accessories do I need in addition to tire shine?

The list is pretty straightforward.

  • Mats or something similar to prevent drips from staining garage floors (bigger issue with solvent based products)
  • Specifically designed sponges or microfiber tire dressing applicators
  • Cleaner for tires
  • All purpose microfiber cloths
  • Some people with allergies or sensitive skin may find gloves helpful.

Should you always clean tires first?

Some products like Black Magic are “one step.” This means they clean and shine at the same time. However, we believe you will ALWAYS get better results if you clean the tires first. The reason for this is that tire shine is more likely to bond with a cleaner surface. The result is a better and longer lasting shine. So in short, our answer is “yes.”

Will tire shine harm raised white letters on tires?

No, manufacturers are acutely aware of all types of tires their products are used on. Very few, if any, problems have been reported about this.

Is paying a bit extra for the best tire shine product worth it?

Absolutely. These are relatively inexpensive products. The best shine product will last longer, look better and protect your tires better. We think that’s an easy choice.

 

 

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